What sets condominiums and HDB apartments apart are the added security, swimming pools and lush estate designs that come with a premium price tag.

Taking into consideration condominiums that are located conveniently near train stations and bustling shopping malls, couples who have just recently tied the knot and who are still struggling to climb up the corporate ladder may not be able to afford living in a sleek condominium apartment.

However, there’s a piece of good news for couples who will get their Build-to-Order (BTO) this year from February, new Housing Board flats will now come with condo-like finishing at a fraction of the cost. Read on to find out what are these features to look out for and how to start decorating your new home.

1. Larger tiles

These sleeker and more modern fittings such as larger tiles and concealed floor traps will be installed in new Build-to-Order (BTO) projects launched since February this year. The new flats will incur marginally higher costs that HDB will absorb, and does not affect the house pricing.

2. Structural walls and open-concept kitchens

The HDB has adopted several practices more befitting of private condominiums in recent years, such as pushing structural walls and beams to the side to encourage open plan layouts, as well as open-concept kitchens last year. 

3. Laminated timber main door

The new fittings include a scratch-resistant laminated timber main door with better finishing, which replaces the timber veneered doors in older flats. Wrought iron gates will be replaced with steel entrance gates, which offer more modern designs.

4. Thumb-turn knobs

Thumb-turn knobs will be featured on these new gates instead of the traditional key inserts – this allows residents to open their gates from the inside without a key, enabling them to escape quickly in fire emergencies. 

5. Larger floor tiles

Kitchens and bathrooms will also have larger floor tiles. Kitchen floors will be fitted with 600mm x 600mm tiles instead of 300mm x 600mm ones, while bathroom floor tiles will have larger tiles of 300mm x 600mm, replacing the old 300mm x 300mm ones.

The HDB said these larger tiles allow better visual continuity “from the kitchen to the living area”, and also make cleaning easier.


6. Modern bathroom designs

Instead of more breakable ceramic tiles, a new range of dual flush low capacity water closets with a wide range of modern designs. Concealed floor traps will replace plastic floor traps in bathrooms, giving bathrooms a more sophisticated finish.

7. Change of ramps

Ramps at thresholds will be replaced with a 20mm drop, giving flats a more contemporary look and layout, while still remaining accessible for people in wheelchairs, HDB said. This change was made in response to feedback from residents, who said that the ramps let water seep out of the bathrooms when residents cleaned them.

8. Top-hung windows

A streamlined design for the door and window ensemble between the kitchen and service yard will also be offered – top-hung windows will replace the traditional louvred vent windows, making windows more durable and easier to clean. The windows provide more flexibility for design for homeowners, HDB said.

9. Longer-lasting floor tiles

Undergraduate Ms Melanie Heng, 24, who bought her BTO flat in February, said” It’s a welcome change to create a more modern and chic look, in comparison to the usual traditional features of a HDB flat.”

“I’m happy to see that floor tiles will be more resistant to wear and tear as this is the element of the house which needs to withstand the test of time. As home buyers, we naturally prefer something more long-lasting,” she added.

Mr Kenyon Tan, 25, a first-time flat buyer who is self-employed, said the new fittings in HDBs will help new home owners spend less time trying to make their home more modern looking.


Text: Rosalind Ang & Rachel Au-Yong / The Straits Times, Additional text: Seah Pei Jun/ The Singapore’s Woman Weekly.